Stride of the Future, Austin's Moonwalkers Named TIME's Top Invention, Making Pedestrians Zoom!

Stride of the Future, Austin's Moonwalkers Named TIME's Top Invention, Making Pedestrians Zoom!Source: Shiftrobotics
Natalie Petrovich
Published on November 22, 2023

If you've ever wished to zip through the streets at the speed of light or at least three times your pedestrian pace, look no further—Moonwalkers are here to transform how you tread. These nifty 'robot shoes' from Austin's Shift Robotics have been handpicked by TIME Magazine as one of the year's most revolutionary inventions, revolutionizing personal mobility with each electrified step.

Shift Robotics' CEO, Xunjie Zhang, found inspiration through adversity. After a scooter accident brought his attention back to the humble act of walking, Zhang told KXAN, "I start asking myself why I never walked, even though walking is the safest way of getting around the cities." He intended to create a device to quickly and safely enhance pedestrian travel. And from this spark of curiosity, Moonwalkers were born to help you boldly walk faster than ever before.

These AI-infused devices study your gait, perfectly synchronizing with your walk cycle to provide a seamless boost of speed. Pushing a button sends you gliding forward like you've stepped onto one of those airport moving walkways—but with total freedom to navigate as you please. "You have a very big push or force to the ground; we will accelerate at the same time. But as soon as you release and you transition into what we call a control fall, we stop giving you more gas to continue accelerating," Zhang explained in a KXAN interview. It's a futuristic sprint without the sprinting part.

Recognized for their innovative prowess, Moonwalkers clinched a spot on TIME's coveted list of the 200 Best Inventions of 2023. With a Kickstarter campaign that skyrocketed well past its goal, raising nearly $330,000, it's clear this Austin-based outfit has quickly become the belle of the tech-world ball. Xunjie Zhang: "never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that someday I would invent a product that would be named by TIME as one of the best inventions of the year," according to a press release obtained by Shift Robotics. With an ambition to seriously shake up how we move, it seems they're just getting started.

Functional across a variety of terrains and rechargeable in just 90 minutes, these shoes are more than just a pedestrian enhancement; they represent a pivotal shift in urban mobility. Currently available for $1,399 with holiday discounts up for grabs, the catch comes with a size: only those with feet fitting between men's sizes 9 and 12, or women's sizes 10.5 to 13.5, can enjoy the robotic trot. But with a weight recommendation tipping at 220 lbs, Moonwalkers have clearly set the bar high in the walkable tech race.